Highway africaIn line with its commitment to enhance and impact journalism, media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa, MTN Uganda sponsored three Ugandan journalists to attend the just concluded Highway Africa Conference in South Africa.

2013 marks the 12th year of MTN’s support of the Highway Africa Conference, which is the world’s largest gathering of African journalists to address challenges facing African journalists and assess the impact of technological changes on the media. The Conference is a project of Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa), in partnership with Telkom, Absa Barclays and MTN. The number of MTN Operations sending sponsored journalists to the conference has increased over the years.

The three journalists; Charles Kodili -Gazzaman, Business Editor at Red Pepper, Arthur Oyako On-line Editor- New Vision and Ismail Ladu  Business Reporter with Daily Monitor took part in the three day  conference hosted by Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies in partnership with the Department of Communications (South Africa), Corporate South Africa, development agencies and media associations.

For over a decade, the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism, media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world.

Welcoming the journalists back on Thursday 5th September 2013, MTN Uganda’s General Manager Corporate Services, Anthony Katamba expressed the company’s continued commitment to support the media fraternity both locally and on the continent as a whole.

“We are proud of the immense contribution of MTN Uganda in enabling Ugandan journalists to be part of critical reflection and engagement on what it means to be a media practitioner and scholar in the African continent. This is an annual conference to which MTN typically sponsors journalists from the business section of our key partner newspapers on recommendation of their CEOs and Editors in Chief. This is something MTN Uganda will continue doing as a commitment to our support for impactful journalism in the country and Africa at large,” Katamba said.

Commenting on their experiences at the just concluded Highway Africa Conference, the three journalists had the following comments:

Charles Kodili -Gazzaman, Business Editor at Red Pepper said, “It is definitely value for money for MTN giving us that opportunity to critically dissect the profession of journalism at the just concluded Highway Africa conference.”

Arthur Oyako, On-line Editor- New Vision said, “There is much to carry back home for somebody who draws life both from IT and journalism. The blend of policies and case studies was great. The evenings were just as good. I wish I could do this again next year. Thank you MTN.”

Ismail Ladu, Business Reporter at the Monitor Publications said, “Off course without the goodwill of MTN, such an opportunity could have taken long to come by. I am thankful that I was able to network and share experiences with the great speakers and fellow journalists from across the African continent. We were able to exchange ideas on how we can practice our trade-journalism. That was definitely the icing on the cake. I thank MTN for making all this possible”.

Key note speakers at the Conference included among others, the Honourable Minister Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Government of the Republic of South Africa. She noted that the media has an immense role to play in the continent’s development agenda adding that the Conference provided a forum for discussion on sustainable development and tit bits on how the media can educate African people on what little things they could do in their own environments that could make a difference.

In his opening remarks, Dr Sizwe Mabizela the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Rhodes University said the Conference which started off as an ad-hoc conference featuring just 65 delegates in 1996 has grown into a highly prestigious conference and the most pre-eminent platform for journalists, media practitioners and professionals, policy-makers and others to exchange views and reflect on the challenges facing their profession and practice in the African continent and beyond.

This years’ Highway Africa Conference theme was ‘Speaking truth to power? Media, Politics and Society’ and participants were taken through a multi-pronged programme with the following components:

Research: mapping the terrain of the challenges of the interface of technology, journalism and the media;

Education and Training: responding to the identified gaps this project makes a practical intervention by re-skilling, upskilling, educating and training journalists;

Reporting Development: this is our new and exciting project that seeks challenge and transform how African journalism and media cover the development agenda. The project consists of three elements – a web portal (www.reportingDNA.org), an annual Reporting Development Forum and training workshops.

Conference: the flagship of the programme, it is the forum for critical reflection on journalism, media, technology and development in Africa.